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Upgrading Your Pots and Pans? 3 Cookware Materials to Consider Before Buying Your Next Set

Upgrading Your Pots and Pans? 3 Cookware Materials to Consider Before Buying Your Next Set

Pot and Pans

If you’re looking to elevate your cooking, it’s of equal importance to have the right tools as it is to have the right recipes. When it comes to pots and pans, there are hundreds of options on the market, made from a variety of materials that offer their own advantages and disadvantages. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the cookware out there, here’s a breakdown of three of the most common materials for pots and pans and some popular brands to consider before purchasing your next set.

1. Stainless Steel

Advantages

Non-Reactive: 

  • Stainless steel is known to be non-reactive, meaning it does not chemically react with acidic or alkaline foods. That means stainless steel pans won’t impact the taste of your food. It also helps maintain food quality, like the color and texture of the food, and does not release harmful metals or chemicals, making this material safer for cooking than others.

Durability: 

  • Stainless steel pots are also durable, resistant to rust and corrosion, and can withstand high-heat cooking, making them an excellent choice for searing meat and achieving that great browning without damaging your cookware. The high-heat cooking ability also makes them suitable for various cooking methods. 

Disadvantages

Heat Conductivity:

  • When it comes to heat conductivity, stainless steel by itself is a poor conductor of heat, but it is often combined with copper or aluminum for better performance.

Sticking:

  • Stainless steel is prone to sticking if not properly preheated or lubricated with oil or butter due to it not being naturally non-stick. 

Warping:

  • Stainless steel also has the potential for warping from rapid changes in temperature. This can occur when placing a hot pan under cold water. This will cause the pan to start to sink in the middle, causing uneven cooking. 

Expensive:

  • Stainless steel is not known to be cheap, especially among premium brands. 

Brands to Consider:

All Clad

A high-quality, high performance and versatile brand with an array of products to choose from, All-Clad is one of the top brands to consider. Trusted by both professional chefs and serious cooks, All-Clad has the capability to take your cooking to the next level. It does come at a pricey cost, but for those willing to make the investment, All-Clad is definitely one to consider. Many of the pots and pans are dishwasher safe, but it important to note that it’s recommended to hand-wash their cookware to maintain its appearance and performance.

All Clad Pots and Pans

Cuisinart:

When it comes to stainless steel cookware, Cuisinart checks all the boxes. Durable, with non-reactive properties, and compatible with different types of cooktops, Cuisinart products offer great versatility for various cooking methods. Most Cuisinart stainless steel cookware is also dishwasher safe, making it easy to clean.

Cuisinart cookware

2. Non-stick (Teflon and other coatings)

Advantages

Non-Stick Surface:

  • Non-Stick (Teflon and other coatings) are an equally popular option to stainless steel. Unlike stainless steel cookware, non-stick is easier to clean, as food doesn’t stick to the surface. Most non-stick pans can be wiped clean with a sponge and soapy water. 

No Oil or Butter:

  • The non-stick surface also means these pots require less oil or butter for cooking, making them a better option for those wanting to create lower-fat meals. 

Delicate Cooking:

  • Non-stick cookware is ideal for cooking delicate foods like eggs, pancakes, and fish at lower to moderate temperatures.

Affordability:

  • Non-stick pots are usually more affordable than other materials, but can sometimes rise in price depending on the brand. 

Disadvantages

Durability: 

  • Unlike cast iron or stainless steel, non-stick lacks durability. Over time, the coatings can wear off, especially with frequent use, overexposure to high heat, or the use of metal utensils. 

Heat Limitations and Potential Health Concerns: 

  • Non-stick ware is not built to withstand high heat cooking, as constant high heat can damage the coating and release potentially harmful fumes. This also makes it unsuitable for oven use. Likewise, using metal utensils or abrasive cleaning tools can cause the coating to scratch or be chipped, releasing particles into your food. 

Lifespan:

  • Non-stick cookware generally has a shorter lifespan compared to stainless steel or cast iron causing replacement is handled improperly. 

Brands To Consider:

T-Fal:

One of the most popular non-stick brands, T-Fal is known for their high-quality non-stick coatings, utilizing multiple layers of non-stick material for enhanced durability. Many of their non-stick pots and pans are also dishwasher safe, however, we recommend following the care instructions, as non-stick ware is better off hand-washed for longevity. T-Fal is also considered to be more affordable than other high-end brands, making it a great choice without breaking the bank. They also offer a wide range of products and various lines of cookware to choose from to meet different needs and budgets. 

T-Fal Pots and Pans

Calphalon:

Similar to T-Fal, Calphalon has a reputation for producing high-quality cookware. Calphalon materials are known to be durable, heat evenly, and resist warping. They are also non-reactive, making them great for different ingredients. Some of their non-stick pots and pans are considered to be oven safe up to a certain temperature. Their classic non-stick line is an affordable option with a wide range of cookware including frying pans, saucepans, griddles, sauté pans and more. 

Calphalon cookware

3. Cast Iron

Advantages

Heat Retention:

  • Cast iron pots are known for their excellent ability to retain and distribute heat evenly, making them ideal for slow-cooking, frying, baking, and searing. 

Durable: 

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  • Thanks to how it is made, cast iron is extremely durable and can last for generations with the proper care. It’s also important to note cast iron is highly resistant to scratches and surface wear. Unlike non-stick, it can withstand the frequent use of metal utensils and rigorous cleaning methods without damage. 

Versatility: 

  • Their construction and excellent heat retention also making cast iron pots extremely versatile. They can be used on the stovetop, in the oven, or on the grill and campfire. 

Non-stick Surface:

  • Cast iron is also known to develop a natural non-stick quality over time with the proper seasoning.  

Affordability: 

  • Compared to high-end stainless steel cookware, cast iron is known to be more affordable. 

Disadvantages

Weight:

  • One of the biggest differences between cast iron, non-stick, and stainless steel is the weight. Cast iron is very heavy, and can be cumbersome to handle for some. 

Maintenance: 

  • To maintain its non-stick surface and prevent rusting, cast iron requires regular seasoning and maintenance which can sometimes feel cumbersome, especially after a long day of cooking. It’s also important to note that cast iron cannot be washed with soap or put in the dishwasher.

Reactive: 

  • Cast iron is reactive, unless well-seasoned. 

Brands to Consider:

Lodge

Lodge is one of the oldest and most recognizable cast iron cookware brands in the United States. Their cookware comes pre-seasoned from the factory with 100% natural vegetable oil, creating a non-stick surface that improves with proper maintenance and use. The company also has a wide range of products such as skillets, dutch ovens, griddles, and more. Like other cast iron pots, Lodge products are known for their heat retention and distribution. They are also focused on sustainability with a commitment to recycling and reducing waste during the manufacturing processes. 

Lodge Cast Iron Skill

Le Creuset (enameled cast iron):

Unlike Lodge, Le Creuset is coated with a layer of enamel, a type of glass that is fused to the cast iron surface. This allows the cast iron to be protected from rusting and eliminates the need for seasoning without sacrificing the standard advantages that come from normal cast irons. Unique to cast irons coated with enamel is that they come in a wide range of vibrant colors, making them both aesthetically pleasing but also a highly functional addition to any kitchen. Thanks to the enamel coating, the cast iron is non-reactive, allowing you to cook with acidic and alkaline foods. 

Le Creuset (enameled cast iron) cookware

From the durability and versatility of stainless steel, to the ease of use and cleaning of non-stick or the cast iron longevity and excellent heat conduction abilities, these materials cover a wide range of cooking needs and preferences. We recommend getting a few products each of these types so you can take advantage of what each material has to offer.

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